As a parent, you want to ensure that your baby is reaching their developmental milestones on time and growing up healthy and happy. However, some babies may require additional help to develop the skills they need to grow and develop. This is where pediatric occupational therapy comes in.
What is Pediatric Occupational Therapy?
Pediatric occupational therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on helping children develop the skills they need to perform daily activities like feeding, dressing, playing, and interacting with others. Occupational therapists work with children and their families to identify and address any physical, cognitive, or sensory challenges that may be hindering their development. The goal of pediatric occupational therapy is to help children achieve their maximum level of independence and participation in daily life activities.
Developmental Milestones for Babies
Babies grow and develop at their own pace, but there are certain developmental milestones that they typically reach in their first year of life. These milestones include:
- Rolling over
- Sitting up
- Grasping and manipulating objects
- Making babbling sounds
- Responding to their name
- Smiling and laughing
- Engaging in social play
- Self Feeding
If your baby is not meeting these milestones on time or is exhibiting other signs of developmental delay, it may be time to seek professional help.
Red Flags for Developmental Delay
Some red flags that may indicate a possible developmental delay in babies include:
- Not meeting developmental milestones on time
- Delayed motor development
- Sensory processing difficulties, such as being overly sensitive to touch or sound
- Feeding difficulties, such as difficulty breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, or eating solid foods
- Struggling to play, including not reaching for or grasping toys
- Lack of eye contact or social interaction
- Excessive crying or irritability
If you notice any of these signs, it is important to speak with your baby’s pediatrician and consider seeking professional help from a pediatric occupational therapist.
Common Conditions That May Require Pediatric Occupational Therapy
There are several conditions that may require pediatric occupational therapy, including:
- Prematurity: Babies who are born prematurely may require additional help to develop their motor and sensory skills.
- Feeding Delays: if an infant is struggling with bottle or breastfeeding or if your child isn’t transitioning to solids with ease
- Torticollis and/or Plagiocephaly: tight neck muscles will affect eating, playing, and developing
- Sensory processing disorder: a condition in which the brain has difficulty processing and responding to sensory information, such as touch, sound, and movement.
- Cerebral palsy: a neurological disorder that affects movement and coordination.
- Down syndrome: a genetic disorder that can affect physical and cognitive development.
If your baby has been diagnosed with any of these conditions or is exhibiting symptoms, pediatric occupational therapy may be recommended as part of their treatment plan.
Evaluation Process for Pediatric Occupational Therapy
If you are concerned about your baby’s development, the first step is to speak with your baby’s pediatrician. They may refer you to a pediatric occupational therapist for an evaluation. During the evaluation process, the occupational therapist will assess your baby’s motor skills, sensory processing, and cognitive abilities. They may use standardized assessment tools to identify any developmental delays or issues.
Interventions Used in Pediatric Occupational Therapy
If your baby is diagnosed with a developmental delay or condition that requires pediatric occupational therapy, there are several interventions that may be used to help them reach their developmental milestones. These interventions include:
- Play-based therapy: therapy that uses play activities to help children develop their motor, sensory, and social skills.
- Sensory integration therapy: therapy that provides sensory-based interventions to help children better process and respond to sensory information.
- Adaptive equipment: devices or tools that can help children perform daily activities more independently, such as a special spoon for feeding or a wheelchair for mobility.
- Feeding therapy: therapy that helps children who have difficulty with feeding by using a multi-sensory approach.
The specific interventions used will depend on your baby’s individual needs and goals.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pediatric Occupational Therapy
How long does pediatric occupational therapy last?
The duration of pediatric occupational therapy will depend on your baby’s individual needs and progress. Some babies may require therapy for a few weeks, while others may require therapy for several months.
How often will my baby need therapy?
The frequency of therapy sessions will depend on your baby’s individual needs and goals. Some babies may require therapy once a week, while others may require therapy several times a week.
How much does pediatric occupational therapy cost?
The cost of pediatric occupational therapy will depend on your insurance coverage and the specific therapy provider. Some insurance plans may cover occupational therapy, while others may require a copay or out-of-pocket expenses.
Will my baby be able to catch up with their peers?
With early intervention and the right therapy interventions, many babies are able to catch up with their peers and reach their developmental milestones on time.
Pediatric occupational therapy can be a valuable tool for helping babies develop the skills they need to perform daily activities and reach their developmental milestones. If you are concerned about your baby’s development, it’s important to speak with your baby’s pediatrician and consider seeking professional help from a pediatric occupational therapist. With the right support and resources, your baby can thrive both now and in the future.
Contact Connect Pediatric Therapy for a free parent phone consultation at 402-413-1356 if your pediatrician has recommended occupational therapy or if you believe your baby would benefit from our services.